Several years ago, I read a book that had a profound impact on me. I can’t remember the author or title (though I’m pretty sure the author was David Bach), but one concept has really stuck with me. The author suggested that you make a list of four to six things that are important to you. These are supposed to be ideas and values, not specific goals. I will admit that I have twisted the authors ideas a bit, putting slightly more specific things such as sports in addition to much more vague things such as fun. I don’t do well with vague. Place your list in a circle or randomly around the page, not up and down in a line, to show that none of these choices are more or less important than the others. What sort of things might you include?
- Art (actual physical art, or something else)
- Beauty (art, or a beautiful house, or garden, or whatever)
- Environmental issues
- Helping Others
- Making a difference
- Peace of mind
None of these are meant to be comprehensive — if playing the accordion is very important to you, add it to your list!
The idea is to organize your spending around the the things you value. This works both ways – why would you spend a lot of money on something that you don’t value, but also why would you not spend money on things that you value a lot? When I did this exercise, one of the first things I noticed was that I don’t list eating out or buying beer and wine as a core value, but both of those things take up a decent chunk of my spending. I don’t spend much at all on my health, despite listing it in my top values.
I challenge you to try this exercise. Make a list of the things that are most important to you, then think for a bit about how your spending reflects these values. Let me know if you find this useful!